Emergency Preparedness for Families with Children with Special Health Care Needs

Emergency Preparedness

In Texas, disasters can strike quickly and without warning. It’s important to know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your area. As a family of a child with special needs, planning for an emergency is critical. You and your loved ones could be anywhere when it happens – at work, at school, or in the car.

Every Family Needs an Emergency Plan

Planning with your family before a disaster is the best way to be sure that everyone stays safe. Think about what kinds of supplies, medicines and assistance your family needs each day and how you would make it on your own for at least three days. Remember to include all family members- and pets- when you make your plan.

What does my family and child with a disability need in an emergency?

Every situation is different and each child has individual needs. To get started, here are questions to think about:

  • Depending on the nature of the disaster and personal needs, will you stay and shelter-in-place, go to a public shelter, or somewhere else? Plan for all possibilities.
  • How will family members communicate, if separated, and local phone service is unavailable?
  • Have we gotten input and discuss planning with our child’s health care providers?
  • Did we pre-register with 2-1-1 if help will be needed to evacuate?
  • Are there supplies that need refrigeration?
  • Is there equipment that requires electricity? Have I notified the utility company?
  • What supplies for service animals or pets are needed? By law, service animals must be allowed in public shelters.

What do we need in our emergency kit?

In addition to survival basics - food, water, first aid and tools - you may want to include:

  • An Emergency Information Form with a list of your child’s current doctors, pharmacy and phone numbers
  • A list and two week supply of all current prescription and non-prescription medicines, or as much as possible
  • Two weeks of medical supplies such oxygen, syringes, catheters, formula and other nutritional products
  • Important documents like medical records, health insurance cards, prescriptions and personal identification stored on a CD, flash drive, or phone app. Keep paper copies in a waterproof bag.
  • Extra batteries and/or chargers for hearing aids, wheelchairs, and other essentials
  • Personal care and hygiene items
  • Items to calm and entertain your child

Other things to consider in planning for an emergency:

  • Register for STEAR Program under the Texas Department of Public Safety. This is a free, public registry that provides local emergency planners and emergency responders with additional information during times of an emergency event.
  • Visit your local fire and police departments. Tell them about your child. Invite them to your home to meet your child and give you emergency tips.
  • If you are separated from your family at the time of the disaster, do you have a meeting place? Pick one place in your neighborhood and one place outside of your neighborhood
  • Make a list of family, friends, and others in your support network
  • Include a relative or friend in another area who would not be affected by the same emergency and would be able to help, if needed
  • Check expiration dates on medications in your emergency kit to avoid spoiling 

Below are additional websites that can help you prepare your family:


Send comments or report broken links by e-mail to CSHCN Services Program.

External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These sites may also not be accessible to people with disabilities.

Last updated January 9, 2017